Why Was It So Trendy to Hate the USSR? Soloviev Calls Out Hypocrisy of Hardcore Anti-Soviets
Karen Shakhnazarov, director, People's Artist of Russia: I believe we're exaggerating. Mr. Kikabidze said that he hated the USSR. Who cares? Mr. Kikabidze is a great singer and comedian, he's entitled to his own opinion. Today, a lot of Russian artists hate the USSR. I'll never forget us celebrating New Year in the Cinema House in 1991, the last year of the USSR. The hymn started to play. Menshov and I stood up, six other people did the same the rest of the audience remained seated. And the USSR hadn't even collapsed yet. I'm sure those who remained seated are mostly in good health and treat the USSR the way Kikabidze does. In my opinion, it was Russia that spread anti-Sovietism to the republics. Russia was the stalwart of anti-Sovietism in the 90's. We were destroying everything that reminded of the USSR. The trend still exists. It's not that cool nowadays so many people who agree with Vakhtang Kikabidze won't share their opinion. Some might still mutter something while drunk. So speaking about anti-Sovietism I wouldn't say it's a big deal. The situation's pretty clear. It's obvious that the USSR made an enormous contribution to the development of the national republics. Prior to the USSR, there had been no culture at all. They built theaters, they built… Come on, Boris, let me finish.
— What about Etchmiadzin in Armenia?
— Please, wait. I'm not done talking.
— Armenian culture is more ancient than ours.
— What about famous Armenian cinema?
— Every republic had movie studios. Each republic had its own studio. Each republic got its own opera theater. There had been none. And philharmonic halls. Come on!
— Cinema is not the only art form.
— And Etchmiadzin isn't about art at all.
— What is it about then?
— Gentlemen, please, stop interrupting me! On the other hand, unfortunately, it turned out that nobody cared about the national culture. They didn't need it. They aren't crying about it now. Lena says they lost it. Yes, they did but they don't seem to care much. Latvians go to Ireland, Ukrainians… Nobody seems to mind it. But why does anti-Sovietism live and prosper? Why would you argue about that? There was a country its achievements are well-known, it's our history.
But why is anti-Sovietism so trendy? I believe it's a political issue. I believe the Soviet Union was the peak of the Russian-Eurasian civilization. It's the only period of the Russian history when Russia outdid the West both in terms of culture and technology. We were the first to test an airplane. The first civilian jet was built in the USSR. The first nuclear plant was built in the USSR. And, most importantly, our weapons were better than their Western analogues. It hadn't happened for a thousand years. Even now the USSR is a possible example of how Russia could be resurrected. They're openly trying to destroy it. Hillary Clinton used to say frankly: «We'll never let the USSR rise again.» It could be prevented by destroying the memory of the USSR primarily in Russia. Right now, it's being destroyed. And then we wonder why the Ukrainians demolish the Soviet monuments. It's no surprise. Russia's also been fighting with its Soviet past. I'm not saying that there were no dark spots in the history of the USSR. No history is spotless. And I'd like to remind you, Boris, that California and Texas belonged to Mexico. They were conquered by the US.
— I'd rather say purchased.
— No, they didn't purchase them. There was a bloody conflict.
— Go ask a Mexican football fan at Nikolskaya Street. The Mexicans remember everything. It's still a touchy subject for them. So please don't. No history is spotless. But there's no doubt that the USSR played a colossal positive role in the world history and especially in the history of Russian Eurasia. That's why they want to destroy it. At some point, some national elites decided that it was over, the USSR was over and they needed to find their place. That's just how small ethnicities work. I believe they did that in haste. I won't make predictions, but they might have made a mistake. But that's the crux of the matter We must fight anti-Sovietism here, in Russia.
— We have to make a tiny break. But first, I'd like to comment on the phrase about Etchmiadzin. The great culture of the great people of Armenia, the great culture of the great people of Georgia, the great traditions of the Baltic nations and the achievements of their composers and authors remain untouched. And Central Asia had great ancient traditions. Much of their culture was preserved only thanks to the Russian Empire. Otherwise, those states would have been wiped off by their formidable neighbors. Georgia came to the Russian tsar for a reason. For Armenia, it was the question of life and death of the whole Armenian people. One must give credit to the USSR as it didn't only preserve national traditions but developed them, saving them from assimilation and extinction. The USSR raised it to the new level. That's what Karen's talking about. The USSR didn't destroy, didn't pave over national cultures but saved and improved it. Karen?
— I agree…
— We'll incorporate this criterion.
—I agree that we mustn't idolize everything the Soviet Union did. That would be a mistake. But I'm talking about anti-Sovietism having a negative impact on our lives. It's political. We must understand what it leads us to in terms of politics. Anti-Sovietism promotes the revision of the current European order, meaning the borders! If you cancel everything the USSR did you cancel the outcome of the war, for instance. Consequently, this would affect the Kaliningrad Region and some other matters. I think it's the main cause of the anti-Soviet movement which is, unfortunately, quite strong in Russia as well. In my everyday life, I don't care what Mr. Kikabidze thinks about the USSR. It's up to him.
By the way, I must say that I have a lot of friends in the USA. There are a lot of people there that hate the USA. They just hate it. They'll tell you about Mexico, black people, native Americans and their imperialism and that the US is to be closed. Fortunately, there are a lot of such knowledgeable people in America who refuse to tolerate the American imperialistic ambitions. But there, politically, it doesn't lead to the revision of any borders so far. Maybe when they face the same danger they'll start thinking about that.
But since this trend exists in Russia on the political level it's important to protect the USSR at the government level. We shouldn't idolize the USSR or Stalin. There were a lot of mistakes. But we must protect it as a part of our history that still continues and is actually our reality. Destroying it might lead even to a war. Thus, I think we must adhere to principles when dealing with this matter.